What is a best before date?
A best before date on a food package states when the durable life period of the food ends. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, durable life means “the anticipated amount of time that an unopened food product, when stored under appropriate conditions, will retain its freshness, taste, nutritional value, or any other qualities claimed by the manufacturer.” This date can be found on a package underneath the words “best before”.
This date tells consumers that the unopened product should be of high quality until that specific date. The key with this date is that it is dependent upon the product being properly handled and stored based on the requirements of that particular food product. This means that failure to adhere to the guidelines for handling and storing a particular product will affect its quality by the best before date. This also means that the best before date no longer applies if a package is opened.
What is an expiry date?
An expiry date is not the same as a best before date. These dates are required on certain foods that have specific nutritional compositions that could falter after the determined expiration date. In other words, after the expiration date has passed, the food may not have the nutrient content as described on the label.
Expiry dates are required for formulated liquid diets, foods sold by a pharmacist, meal replacements, nutritional supplements and infant formula.
If a food has passed its expiration date it should be discarded and not used.